Lording it over? They claim 300 pounds a day for nothing
London, Feb 21 (IANS) Many members of the upper house of the British Parliament collect their full daily allowance of 300 pounds while contributing nothing, a senior parliamentarian has claimed, media reports said on Tuesday.
In a preview of a programme to be broadcast by the BBC on February 27, Lady D’Souza, a former House of Lords Speaker, made the stinging commnt.
On the same programme, ‘Meet the Lords’, Paul Tyler, a former Liberal Democrat chief whip who now sits in the Lords as a life peer, called the institution the “best day-care centre for the elderly in London”.
He said: “Families can drop him or her in and make sure that the staff will look after them very well, nice meals subsidised by the taxpayer, and they can have a snooze in the afternoon in the chamber or in the library.”
D’Souza said: “I can remember one occasion when I was leaving the house quite late and there was a peer… who jumped out of a taxi just outside the entrance, left the engine running. He ran in, presumably to show that he’d attended, and then ran out again while the taxi was still running.”
“So, I mean that’s not normal, but it is something that does happen and I think that we have lost the sense of honour that used to pertain, and that is a great, great shame,” she said.
She also insisted in the Guardian report that there was a “core of peers who work incredibly hard,…”.
But she also admitted that there were “many, many, many peers who contribute absolutely nothing but who claim the full allowance”.
John Prescott, the former Labour Deputy Leader, compared the Lords allowance system to unemployment benefit.
“I remember when I was a seaman, unemployed, it was called the job centre, and if you wanted to get your unemployment money, you ticked on, and if you didn’t get there you didn’t get it…,” he told the documentary makers.
In the BBC programme, which combined interviews and fly-on-the-wall footage, Tory peers David Blunkett and Norman Tebbit also questioned some of the appointments that Prime Ministers made to the upper house.
Lord Tebbit said: “Far too many people have been put in here as a sort of personal reward.”
“You wouldn’t have imagined Margaret Thatcher (former British Prime Minister) wanting to give a peerage to (husband) Denis Thatcher’s tailor… But we have come pretty close to that in recent years.”
There are more than 800 members in the House of Lords.